Whether you’re new to coaching, or have been working in the industry for a long time, you won’t have escaped the fact that there’s a lot of talk about the importance of knowing your niche.
There is an emphasis on making sure you can show up in Google searches, and can pitch concisely and clearly. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t bad things, but the underlying fear is if you don’t niche your clients can’t find you. The way the story is told it sounds like you have to have a niche to be successful.
Essentially the message is: No niche no business.
When I made the transition to running my own private practice after ten years as an executive coach, I got totally stuck with niching. Everyone was talking about it so I niched for a short while, but deep down it didn’t feel right. It was like I was dressed up in some peculiar clothes that didn’t fit. The clients who were coming to me didn’t match the niche I had chosen. I was helping them anyway but the brand I wasn’t creating didn’t align. I knew I needed more freedom, more space to breath so I could expand rather than contract and constrict. So it turned out niching wasn’t for me.
There are more than 50,000 accredited coaches in the world. Add that to the many thousands who aren’t accreditated, and it is easy to believe if you go broad with your message you will be lost and that you won’t be found. I have a different perspective. It may not be the route to building your business fast, but I believe it is a route to creating a sustainable, healthy business that has longevity. After all isn’t that what you want? To help more people?
I hear coaches who are not yet coaching, or those who are changing the direction of their work asking: ‘what kind of coach am I?’
But I wonder if this is the right question? What if your work is designed to be an evolutionary experience? What if it shifts and changes with you as you develop and grow? Asking ‘what kind of coach am I?’ potentially keeps your thinking narrow and closed.
If you want to expand, you can enquire by journalling on this series of liberating questions:
- What is the essence of coaching for me?
- Who am I as a coach?
- Who am I not?
- What do I believe about coaching?
- What is coaching, what is it not?
- What difference does coaching make?
- What do I want to bring to the world?
The other way to discover who you are as a coach is to simply coach. I have been taught, and truly believe, that the people you work with will show you the way.
As you coach stay curious, notice, be aware and use these enquiry questions to guide you:
- Who comes to you?
- Who do you love coaching?
- Who do you fly with?
- Where does the magic happen?
- Where do you meet ‘walls’ in your work?
- What echoes of your story is in theirs?
- What are you longing to learn?
In my work I fly with people who want to transition. How do I know that? Because I coach and am coached – I’ve been coaching a long time, almost every week for almost two decades. I didn’t get this insight sitting at my desk with a blank sheet of paper wondering what my niche is. In fact when I did that it led me away from my true talent.
If you know in your heart the niche that is yours, I respect that and go and shine that light brightly. There are so many examples of coaches who are doing this brilliantly in the world.
And If you don’t, don’t worry. Go out and coach anyway. Be a lighthouse. If you put your energy out, and do good work, the people who need you will find you, and over time your place will be revealed. The work will show you the way.